The IDF Medical Corps unveiled a new series of steps Thursday to raise awareness among Israeli soldiers of the dangers of smoking as part of a campaign to reduce the high number of smokers in the IDF.
"In cooperation with the Israel Defense Forces, the Medical Corps and the Israel Cancer Association, we built a general IDF program," says Major Oshrat Gozlan, head of the health promotion field in the army's health sector.
"The program is built on three axes," she adds. "The first of these is raising awareness of the damage of smoking by campaigning and holding lectures on the subject that will be part of IDF training. In the lectures, we will explain the immediate damage caused by smoking, and not just the things that may happen in old age - which is less spoken of and touched upon."
The goal - to prevent secondhand smoke
"The second axis focuses on the procedures and their enforcement," continues Major Gozlan, "and states that soldiers can smoke only in the designated corners. According to the new laws that are due to take effect soon, the smoking areas will be far from the entrances to buildings and even from places where there is a lot of gathering [of people]. The goal is to prevent passive smoking and thus reduce the number of soldiers who begin to smoke during the army."
According to her, a smoker who does not comply with the new law may be punished: "In the coming weeks, a new penal law will be introduced in the legal laws, and the military police will issue reports to soldiers who smoke in places that have not been defined."
In addition to restricting and detaining smoking places, Major Gozlan relates that it is possible that soldiers serving in training bases will soon be unable to purchase cigarettes at Shakam: "For several years now, we have forbidden the sale of cigarettes because we will not sell health products the opposite. We are now working on banning the sale of cigarettes at training bases. "
"The key is awareness"
"The Third Axis," Major Gozlan shares, "will focus on quitting smoking. For several years, smoking cessation workshops have been open to all IDF soldiers at no cost, and this year we have doubled the number of workshops, so that 60 rehabilitation workshops will be available for the soldiers. "
"In the past, a soldier used to go to the rehabilitation workshops in order to participate," she says.
In order to meet the targets, the IDF will conduct periodic inspections during the year: "We will conduct surveys in which we will examine the percentage of smokers who enlist in the IDF against the percentage of discharged smokers.
"The key is awareness," concludes Major Gozlan, emphasizing: "The understanding that a cigarette is a poison that can kill you. Once the soldier understands this, he will stop smoking himself. "